The protection of the patient's private life: a vast normative landscape. First part.

Abstract

The debate on the protection of people's private life is stronger than ever, particularly in the health care sector, where choices have to be made in order to decide between the conflicting interests at stake. This Article gives an overview of the general provisions that aim, for the time being, at guaranteeing this protection to the patient. His or her right to respect for private life, which aims at protecting not only the confidentiality of his or her private realm and relationships with others, but also his or her freedom of choice regarding this private realm and these relationships, is indeed expressed, in various forms, in a large number of texts of every possible origin. It would be a mistake to regard these as a heap of redundant rules. These texts can be distinguished according to their content, the time of their elaboration and their authors. Although complex, the normative structure that they form is not void of effectiveness. A next article will examine how they are extended and supplemented by provisions trying to answer, at the level of the respect of private life, to the growing use of computers in medical practice.

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